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Waldorf Astoria Red Ribbon Cake

February 11, 2010

~ Mary ~


Happy Valentines Day!  And what better way to celebrate than with the Red Ribbon Cake we grew up with.  Yes – it’s exactly the same as a Red Velvet Cake – I have no idea why we called it Red Ribbon – maybe all the layers?.  Anyway, Emma set out to make the family recipe this Christmas with her mom, Wanda.  They ran into some issues with the frosting so I decided to make some of the Butter Cream Frosting for the Blue Cornmeal Cake I had going.

Low and behold, I had the EXACT same issues – I couldn’t believe it!  How many times had I made this buttercream frosting and it turned out perfectly!? Well, excluding the first time I made it.  But that never happened again.  We went around the horn with maybe it having been that we used margarine twenty years ago and that ruffled a few feathers because Patty claims we NEVER had margarine in the house (contrary to a few of our memories).  Patty and I then deduced that it’s got to be the sugar that’s changed over the years and perhaps if we used Super-Fine Sugar our results might be better.  AND I did a little interweb sluething myself and found that perhaps our milk didn’t have a high enough fat content.  These two minor changes  resulted into the beautiful Buttercream Frosting I remembered from childhood!  Thank goodness!

Here is where I’d slip you a photo of my hand written – heavily soiled recipe – because I’m lazy and hate typing.  But since I changed it up and, for some, it seems to be difficult to follow my handwriting I’ll type it out – aren’t you lucky!!!


But before I go, I’ll leave you with some links to other layer cakes you might enjoy:

Strawberry Butter ~ Mango Mousse ~ Tiramisu

Heaven & Hell ~ Peachy Keen ~ German Chocolate
Chocolate Peanut Butter Salute ~ Kahlua Mexican Chocolate
Lane Cake ~ Blue Cornmeal

Waldorf Astoria Red Ribbon Cake


Fist things first – do this first step of the frosting so that it can be PLENTY cold by the time you’re ready to make the second half of the Buttercream Frosting.

In a sauce pan over medium heat combine:

2 1/4  Cups Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Flour
2 tsp GOOD Vanilla

Continuously whisk, so no lumps form, until a thick paste forms.

Transfer to a bowl, cover and put in fridge to get COLD before using it.


In mixing bowl on medium speed cream together

3/4 Cup Butter
2 Cups Sugar

Add one at a time, mixing between each one.

3 Eggs


2 tsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Red Food Coloring

In separate bowl sift to combine

3 3/4 Cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
5 Tbsp Dutch Process Cocoa

You are going to alternate additions of your flour mixture with

1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk

Mix batter well after each dry addition and each buttermilk addition.

Finally in small dish combine together and let foam

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Cider Vinegar

then add and incorporate into rest of batter.

Divide equally among 3 well greased and floured 8″ round pans (a smidgen more than 1 and a half pounds for each pan).  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

While the cake is baking let’s make the rest of the

Butter Cream Frosting

In clean mixing bowl on high speed with whip attachment combine:

2 1/4 Cups Butter
2 1/4 Cups Super Fine Sugar

Beat until Light, White and FLUFFY.  It takes about 20 minutes. Periodically
scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Once the sugar has just about dissolved add the paste mixture you’ve been cooling in the fridge.  BE SURE IT’S COLD! Add a couple tablespoons at a time.  Mix/beat until combined and sugar has completely dissolved.

Frost cake:

Cool layers completely.

Slice off any dome that has formed during baking, then slice each layer in half horizontally.

Lay out each layer and parcel out your frosting equally on each layer making sure to  leave enough to frost the outside of the cake, once the layers are all stacked.

Have at it and have FUN!

46 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2010 8:53 pm

    Beautifully delicious Valentines Day cake Mary! Hope your V Day is super sweet.

  2. February 11, 2010 11:26 pm

    It’s a real beauty! I could never make something perfect like this! Have a wonderful Valentine’s day!

  3. February 12, 2010 6:26 am

    This looks incredible, Mary! My daughters Birthday is next weekend and she asked for a Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake. I am going to try to recreate the Cheesecake one…Wish me luck.
    Have any pointers?

  4. February 12, 2010 9:15 am

    This looks perfect for a Valentine’s Party or just for one’s honey! Great pictures. A slice piece!

  5. Pat permalink
    February 12, 2010 10:43 am

    This is, and has been for years, my very favorite cake. We would make it for Valentine’s Day and Christmas every year. Then, once in a while, for a birthday by special request.

    I never had a problem with the frosting. But I haven’t made the cake in thirty years either! Also, we had fresh milk right from the cows which had plenty of cream. Maybe the grind of sugar has changed. Whatever, I’m glad there’s a way to have it perfect again!

    I want to take a big bite of this cake right now!

  6. February 12, 2010 12:11 pm

    That is the poshest looking Red Velvet I’ve ever seen. So fancy and elegant. Definitely fit for a four-star hotel. 😉

  7. Brooke permalink
    February 12, 2010 12:13 pm

    I grew up with a very similar recipe–we called it Red Chocolate Waldorf-Astoria Cake, and sometimes referred to it as Devil’s Food. Only just realized this is today’s Red Velvet! The frosting recipe I use has half shortening, half butter. Haven’t had any problems getting it to come together as far as I know.

    • foododelmundo permalink*
      February 12, 2010 6:45 pm

      I’ll bet that would work – thanks for the tip Brooke! ~Mary

  8. February 12, 2010 12:41 pm

    What a yummy looking cake. It’s so fancy-looking but still I just want to devour it!! Here’s my fave Red Velvet recipe:

    But I think yours might top it!

    • foododelmundo permalink*
      February 12, 2010 6:46 pm

      Oh – I think the cake part is pretty much the same – it’s the frosting that’s different – thanks for sharing the link! ~Mary

  9. LeeYong permalink
    February 12, 2010 5:47 pm

    Looks really great!!! Happy baking!

  10. February 12, 2010 5:50 pm

    The layers, my gods, the layers! That is a red velvet cake on crack. I am swooning.

  11. Mom S. permalink
    February 12, 2010 8:11 pm

    Please mail me one of these immediately.


    Mom S. : )

  12. February 12, 2010 10:10 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous cake and you’ve made it into 6 layers. OMG!

  13. Pat permalink
    February 12, 2010 10:53 pm

    How well I remember the first time you made this cake, and especially the frosting! You were always in a hurry and never had much patience with following a recipe. So, you mixed the butter fluffed sugar with the milk flour before it was cool. Granted it was cooler than when it was boiling, but not cool enough . All the butter melted and you had goo. Oh, you were furious!
    Telling it now, insult was added to injury because it was for your birthday and you were making your own birthday cake! How dare the frosting flop? THEN, you mother told you you need to follow the directions, which was totally beyond tolerable!
    Oh, my poor, poor little Mary. The world wasn’t going your way that day! And all because of this beautiful, wonderful cake frosting.
    I’m surprised you turned out so well after so much trauma in your youth! AND NOW, cakes are your favorite food in the whole world…….go figure!

    • foododelmundo permalink*
      February 13, 2010 3:52 am

      Thank you Patty! RIght back atchya!

  14. February 13, 2010 12:09 pm

    This looks awesome! I love the layers. Have a great Valentine’s Day!

  15. February 13, 2010 12:53 pm

    What a stunning slice of Red Ribbon Cake! You need a ladder to get to the top with your fork! Yum 🙂

  16. Alice permalink
    February 13, 2010 3:19 pm

    I’ve been making this cake for years too from a stained hand written recipe card. It was always reliable and the frosting was the best part. However last few times I’ve had trouble with the frosting too – non fat milk isn’t the best and lumps would form while cooking no matter how much whisking. Last time I used my immersion blender after cooking before placing in the fridge to cool – and voila! – no lumps! I also used the food processor to turn standard granulated sugar into finer sugar and there was no more “grit” in the frosting.

    • foododelmundo permalink*
      February 13, 2010 3:41 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and for the useful immersion blender and sugar tips Alice! Superfine is a pain to keep on-hand. ~Mary

  17. February 13, 2010 7:26 pm

    Such red-rich-goodness – this is a “how to make everyone fall in love with you” cake. You can expect a family of four at your dinner tabel tomorrow.

  18. February 13, 2010 7:50 pm

    This is SUPER amazing! All those beautiful layers. YUM!

  19. February 13, 2010 11:46 pm

    Oh – my – gosh! What a beautiful cake! My husband would be the happiest man if I could bake like this!

  20. February 14, 2010 12:55 am



  21. February 15, 2010 1:31 am

    I want to eat this NOW!!!

  22. February 15, 2010 9:50 am

    this cake looks incredible!the layers are amazing! beautiful!

  23. February 15, 2010 10:28 am

    GORGEOUS! red velvet is my favorite too – i blogged about mine a couple of weeks ago, but it was a measly two layer one! I love when they are pretty layers like this though – beautiful~!

  24. February 15, 2010 11:08 am

    Not sure whether to eat it or just stare at it. Looks absolutely beautiful! Almost too pretty to eat. But I suspect I’d manage.

    • foododelmundo permalink
      February 15, 2010 12:41 pm

      Thanks Big Jim! My suggestion Eat then make MORE!

  25. jooday permalink
    February 15, 2010 11:15 am

    omg. looks amazing. i wished i had the skill to make such a beautiful cake. my multi layer cakes always looks crooked and uneven! =P

    • foododelmundo permalink
      February 15, 2010 12:40 pm

      I got a real cool cake cutter from IKEA – it looks like a huge cheese cutter – it really worked out well for me. In fact the reason I made this cake was to test out the cutter! ~Mary Here’s the link:
      Give it a try Judy!

  26. February 15, 2010 11:44 am

    How gorgeous! I love this plate, too. Great choice for this cake.

  27. February 15, 2010 11:55 am

    Seriously! You have my attention now! WOW!

  28. February 15, 2010 12:45 pm

    I looooove Red Velvet~ and this looks like a dream come true!!!

  29. February 15, 2010 5:53 pm

    Wow – this cake is absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful treat for Valentine’s Day. I can’t wait until someday when I make something like this.

    Your recipe sounds delightful!

  30. February 15, 2010 10:44 pm

    Beautiful, and great tips, thank you! Now what is the secret to cutting such perfect thin layers???

    • foododelmundo permalink
      February 16, 2010 8:26 am

      The IKEA cake cutter – I posted a link to it a few comments up. ~Mary

  31. February 15, 2010 10:51 pm

    That is the most beautiful edible valentine I’ve ever seen! Thanks for a wonderful post!

  32. February 16, 2010 10:11 am

    What a beautiful cake. I would not have the patience to make all those layers but I am glad you did. A perfect Valentine’s cake. Kudos.

  33. February 19, 2010 11:37 am

    oh wow! that is ALOT of layers! if i attempted anything like that, it would totally crumble under pressure and not keep up soo wonderfully like yours! Awesome job you did on this cake:)

    • foododelmundo permalink
      February 19, 2010 12:19 pm

      thanks Amy! You could do it – just practice first! ~Mary

  34. February 21, 2010 10:42 pm

    This cake is AMAZING! The layers are absolutely perfect. It’s totally making my mouth water….kind of like when you kept shoving cake on us at Blues Fest. 🙂

  35. January 25, 2011 8:51 pm

    I’ve been looking for THE Valentine’s Day dessert for a dinner I’m making….thank you, this is it…

    • foododelmundo permalink
      January 26, 2011 8:19 am

      Woo Hoo! Enjoy!

  36. Ashley J permalink
    October 20, 2015 10:00 am

    Has anyone ever tried making this recipe into cupcakes? My mom had used our Waldorf-Astoria recipe a few years ago to try out cupcakes, but they didn’t bake up correctly. I know it’s a very dense cake so getting the traditional fluffy cupcake might not be possible? Any thoughts?

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